I just made these up. It only took me eighteen years of freelancing to think of them. Here's how to survive and thrive in challenging times as a freelance writer:
1. Stop Being Paranoid. People aren't stealing your ideas, they don't hate you, they're not being passive aggressive. And if any of these things actually are true, move on. Life's too short and brutish to be eaten up by pettiness and small-minded paranoia.
2. Set fake deadlines and meet them. The editor wants the story December 15. Great. Your deadline is now December 12.
3. It's about relationships, stupid. Good pitches will get you assignments. If you want an actual career, work on nurturing and building your relationships with editors instead.
4. Lose the Emoticons. Rid your emails of the following: your smiley faces, your inspirational quotes, the websites of your 15 different businesses. It makes you look flaky.
5. Be nice. Why would you want to work with someone who's cold, whiney, hard to reach on the phone, sloppy with the facts, defensive or a drama queen. Exactly. Editors don't either.
6. Go back to school. Specialize in something that will give you an advantage over everyone else in your field. Afterward, you might decide to go for that career full-time and bag freelancing permanently.
7. Have a kid or buy a house. Adding big incentives to making money will force you to behave responsibly and meet your financial goals in ways child-free, mortgage-free people can't quite imagine.
8. Meditate. Every morning. For at least a half hour. Doesn't matter which god or non-god or spaceship you pray to. Just do it for thirty days and see what happens.
9. Ixnay the naysayers. By 5pm today, remove or block all the negative grumps on your Facebook and Twitter lists; make an appointment to see one person who's been really supportive of your work; whenever good or positive thoughts or people emerge, think of ways to sustain, develop, nurture, augment and encourage them.
10. Put others first. Say thank you. Do things without expecting thanks. Surprise people with your generosity. Give more money than you expected this end-of-year tax season. Do things for free even though you don't think you can afford to. Say "yes" when people ask for your support and help.
Cross-posted on Herman Miller's Lifework blog